Thursday 14 November 2019

Ireland's 'richest man' could now face bankruptcy

Sean Quinn's empire is taken away from him

Sean Quinn. Photo: David Conachy
Sean Quinn. Photo: David Conachy


Embattled tycoon Sean Quinn, once Ireland's richest man, could be forced into bankruptcy if he fails to repay the €2.88bn he owes Anglo Irish Bank.

If Quinn does not cooperate with Anglo's attempts to recoup the €2.88bn debt, one option open to the bank is to get him declared bankrupt, a leading Dublin liquidator said.

"You'd put a debtor into bankruptcy if he wasn't cooperating with you -- or if you couldn't get at his assets," said the liquidator, who did not wish to be named.

There is no suggestion that Sean Quinn is not cooperating with Anglo. However, if Quinn was declared bankrupt, a trustee would be appointed to take control of his assets -- and to make as much money from those assets as possible. That money would then be used to help repay the €2.88bn debt.

Last July, the High Court granted a request from Anglo to declare former Anglo chairman Sean Fitzpatrick bankrupt. At the time, the bank held almost half of his debts and believed that any attempt to reach a settlement agreement would fail.

Anglo declined to comment when asked if it would consider getting Quinn declared bankrupt.

The bank last week took control of Quinn's multi-million euro business empire and appointed a receiver over the shares held by the Quinn family in the Quinn group.

A five-year restructuring plan for Quinn's manufacturing companies has also been agreed. "Some of the manufacturing companies may be sold to third parties after five years," said the Anglo spokesman.

"There are terms and conditions in the five-year plan to ensure they can not be sold below a particular price. The proceeds of those sales -- if they are sold -- will contribute to reducing the personal debt owed to Anglo."

The manufacturing firms that could be sold include Quinn's cement, plastics, radiators and glass production businesses. Quinn Insurance is expected to be taken over by Anglo and the US insurer, Liberty Mutual.

If the takeover is approved, "Anglo will be a minority owner of Quinn Insurance while Liberty Mutual will run the business", said the Anglo spokesman. "The profits from that business will, in time, also be used to repay the debt."

Some believe that Sean Quinn could declare himself bankrupt before Anglo does -- but that he would move to Northern Ireland or Britain first. If Quinn declared himself bankrupt in Britain, he might only have to wait one year -- rather than 12 years in Ireland -- before going back into business, according to James Treacy, managing director of Business Pro.

"In the great Irish tradition of exporting our domestic problems, it is small wonder that increasingly large numbers of individuals are looking abroad to find a route out of their predicament," said Mr Treacy. "For the vast amount of hopelessly indebted, the easiest option is Britain."

Sean Quinn was not available for comment last week.

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